Tony Gurr

Archive for the ‘ELT and ELL’ Category

Will PokémonGO ‘Save’ Education – and ELT?

In ELT and ELL, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 14/07/2016 at 7:50 am

 

As you might have guessed from my last (tongue-in-cheek) post, I’ve always had a healthy suspicion about blog posts that seem to jump on the latest bandwagon…or the next ‘big’ thing (esp. when that thing is technology-driven).

Sadly, even EDUcators fall for the pull towards the Dark Side:

Self-promotion (cartoon)

…adopting a Kardashian-esque approach to drawing people to their Social Media sites!

 

As I mentioned, Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm – the new Social Media ‘drug’ that has busynesses asking how they can best leverage it (for profit, of course)…and thousands of kids almost getting killed as they cross the road! 

Pokemon Dogs TG ver 130716

Those lovely chaps at Nintendo and Niantic are busy pushing the game with the very sexy tagline ‘The Game Is Only As Good As The Community’ – and seeing as though the second and last word of that tagline are currently all the GO with many a digital cheerleader in EDUcation, I thought I’d dig a round the web and blogosphere a wee bit and what we are saying about Pokémon GO in EDUcation!

See if I am right to be such a Doubting Thomas…by throwing a few rocks at the Internet!

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Blogger (crap blog)

It was not long before one of my rocks ‘hit’ a website!

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A ready-to-GO lesson plan (a 26-page lesson plan…with 40 exercises) from BREAKING NEWS ENGLISH.com (a website developed and maintained by Sean Banville).

I’d seen a few of Sean’s lessons before – and his site definitely lives up to it’s name! Pokémon GO is ‘big, breaking news’…

Now, I am not sure if Sean is an EDUmarketing genius or whether he just accidentally tripped over one of the greatest ways to keep his site on everyone’s Social Media lips (Facebook mostly) – all the stuff on his site is going to be driven by every single trending hashtag (as soon as he gets it out there)! Excellent – bloody genius!

I can see how many teachers would love this material…indeed there are loads of personal recommendations on his Facebook page. I found myself admiring the sheer amount of work he has churned out and got up on the web (he has a wide range of other sites) – I just have no bloody idea how he finds the time!

The problem is that… he is an Arsenal supporter!

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No, shiriously – I just have a wee problem with seeing pages and pages of gap fill exercises, multiple choice questions, true / false reading items, and cloze tests…that I know (in my cynical, black, shrivelled heart) will just be printed up, blindly photocopied and used to breathe life the ‘twin sins’ we see all too often in ELL and ELT:

TWIN SINS TG ver 130716

To be fair, I would be very pushed to brand Sean as the type of Social Media Whore (SMW) we see on so many busyness sites – he is just doing what he says he does (on the lid)…and hands out materials that TEACHers can (and do) use in their classrooms. Further, he does throw in a good range of semi-communicative activities (I just hope these are not the activities that TEACHers ‘skip’ to ‘get through’ all the other more suitable ‘exam prep-esque’ activities) and he clearly knows his ‘ELT stuff’.

but...

Come on…you had to have seen that coming!

I guess I’d just like to see more evidence of sites like this encouraging teachers to ‘thunk’ or ask themselves bigger questions:

ARE WE DOING WHAT IS BEST notepad 130716

…or helping ELTers get ‘out of the box’ a bit more.

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I threw a few more rocks…

…and found the type of post I had assumed there would be thousands of!

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14 Reasons Why Pokemon GO Is the Future of LEARNing (by David Theriault) drew on just about all my tactics to reach his audience (just gotta find an image of him wearing one of those hats)!

Or, so I though initially (do NOT read the last TWO paragraphs of this post)!

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Come on…what self-respecting EDUdigitalcheerleader is going to ignore this wonderful listicle (OK – a list of ‘14’ is a bit awkward…but you gotta love the way he uses the phrase ‘Future of LEARNing’)!

What? I have done the same…SHUT UP!

Read on…

His post starts with the facts – kids love their Smartphones – and rolls smoothly into a ‘subtle challenge’ (to TEACHers). This he does just before making you feel a wee bit ‘guilty’ (if all you are doing is gap-filling and MCQs) by throwing the cornerstones of modern LEARNing at you: the creativity, sharing, community-building, movement, interactivity and virtual field trips enabled by EDtech Toys!

Many of you will probably cry out…

Hadi Ordan 130716 (1)

…but David’s post has got a lot of praise (and, more importantly, HITS)!

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This is also true of the third post I discovered. Written by Lori Gracey and entitled Pokemon GO: What Education Should Be, I had to have a read of this one, too! After all, Lori got as many HITS as David (I wonder if they compared stats, at all).

Lori does a wonderful job of explaining how much better the Android / iOS app version is over the card game (my 5-year-old daughter used to drag my wife and I to a darkened, underground warehouse to buy these when we were in Dubai…scarier than the drive to Ajman or Ras Al Khaimah for our monthly XXXXX XXX…but that’s another story)!

CARDS to GO TG ver 130716 (1)

She admits that she is not really sure how Pokémon GO will help her meet her ‘vision’ – people coming together to have fun and solve problems – but she has a stab at a few decent suggestions…and it is the start of a pretty good vison!

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The thing is…the ideas both she and David discuss in their posts are really quite ‘nice’ – BUT, even together, just did not convince me that Pokémon GO is the Future of LEARNing:

NEW and SHINY TG ver 130716

It certainly won’t ‘save’ us from many of the EDUwoes we face today!

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That having been said their titles got our attention – and, even though these titles weren’t really the best lid for the tin,  I (for one) LEARNed some new stuff…and they got me THUNKing!

Thats a wrap

I was about to wrap things up when I came across a ‘not-PokemonGO-post’, you know, one of those posts that says it is NOT a XXXXXXXX post – from George Couros.

It was cleverly titled, too – ‘#PokemonGo, Being Observant, and Innovation’ (even had the hashtag embedded in the title…and the ‘gap’ removed – smart move, George)!

George plugged his new book (come on…who ain’t gonna do that?) but (more importantly) ended up making me feel a little guilty, too.

Why…you ask!

Well, I had been ‘bashing’ (albeit a wee bit tongue-in-cheek) people in the draft version of this post – and he reminded me that David (Lori and perhaps even Sean – though he did not mention them specifically) was “paying attention and being observant to our world” (mindful, perhaps)…and that these qualities are critical to innovation.

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

He was right, of course!  Isn’t that the very thing I was so nasty about when I had a go at Sean’s site and materials? Sorry, Sean…

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What we are seeing with the mad rush to get Pokemon GO posts into the blogosphere (I hope) by EDUcators is not thinly-veiled attempts at shameless self-promotion (and ‘HITS’…as my initial free advice suggested) – but rather, in George’s words, they are a few initial ‘iterations’ of how we can make Pokemon GO ‘fit’ the vision we have for EDUcation.

In order to do that, we need to be very explicit about what that vision is – and keep asking questions of the latest BIG thing in EDtech

How does this EDtech TG ver 130716

8…and never forget:

Telling the TRUTH TG ver 130716

T..

How Good Are Your TEACHers?

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Learning on 07/07/2016 at 10:29 am

 

This is one of the first questions I ask when I sit down with a School Director or Teacher Trainer to develop a new PD (or CPD) initiative at one of our many Schools (both State and Private) and University Prep Schools (Hazırlık – also both State and Foundation) here in Canım Türkiyem.

Questions (Joseph O Connor quote) Ver 03

It’s not a bad question to kick off with, if you believe (as I do) that the talents, skills and savvy of language teachers is one of the critical determining factors in determining the level of LEARNing and success that LEARNers ultimately achieve.

 

Some TEACHers do not like it!

 

I guess that is because they assume I am only talking about the quality of their language and that I am taking on the role of the judgy-judger Native Speaker (NS) TEACHer – pushing elitism…and native speakerism!

 

I’m not – and my question is wider, closer to the advice of David Crystal:

“If I were in charge of a language-teaching institution, I would want to know four things about applicants: are they fluent? are they intelligible? do they know how to analyse language? are they good teachers? I would not be interested in where they were born, what their first language was, or whether they had a regional accent. There are absolutely no grounds for discrimination these days”.

 

Like David, my question is both about language quality and TEACHing ability – and, for safe measure, it is also about what a TEACHer knows about language / student LEARNing and what s/he does with that knowledge in (and out of) the classroom. It’s a question that touches upon the core ‘Educational Literacies’ that all TEACHers need.

Sith army knife (TG)

 

However, that question of mine is so often boiled down to a Language TEACHer’s knowledge and skills in English – their ‘Disciplinary Literacy’. And, I’ve been asked (a lot more than once):

So, what should the CEFR / GSE minimum level be – for a TEACHer?

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GSE vs CEFR

 

I’ve spent a lot of time thunking this one over, reading journals, and jumping around blogs this year. There are many that are pushing for minimum proficiency levels for TEACHers (including major ELT organisations and those that produce/administer ‘tests’…wonder why, acaba) – especially since the ELT paradigm shift towards performance-based understandings of what it means to ‘know’ a language. There are others who are resisting this idea…for many reasons.

TELLing the truth

 

Just like we would not want our kids to be taught maths by someone that did not know their multiplication tables (or even use a calculator effectively), the vast majority of LEARNers / administrators / parents (esp. parents) want their language TEACHers to be as good as they can be. Undergraduate TEACHers-to-be want their programmes to prepare them to be the best version of themselves before they step into the classroom. Being able to hear the answer to my question is surely the ‘right’ of each and every one of these critical stakeholders.

 

The problem is, of course, we all know (well, at least those that have LEARNed a second language) that language is not a finite or clearly defined entity, which you either know in its entirety or not at all. You do not ‘know’ a language in the same way you know ‘content’ – a poem, mathematical theorem or chemical formula. You can only know it more or less thoroughly. I know many people that ‘know’ Turkish grammar far better than I…but still struggle to win a battle with the Tax Office! I’ve also met many TEACHers with off-the-charts ALES scores (the m/c test all TEACHers need to pass to get a job in a Turkish university – and ‘technically’ the only tool these universities can use to hire their TEACHers)…but cannot have a half-decent chat with me!

 

However, most people seem to agree that language TEACHers need to:

  • be fluent
  • be intelligible
  • know the language they are TEACHing
  • be confident language users
  • know how to analyse language
  • know something about the language their students use (L1)
  • be an active language LEARNer themselves (improving their own language day-by-day)

 

The question, it seems to me, is how exactly a TEACHer (both NS and NNS TEACHers) ‘knows’ these things about him/herself – and how they ‘evidence’ these abilities to others.

What if 06

What do you thunk – remembering, for now, we are are only talking about the language skills / talents (or ‘Disciplinary Literacy’) of our TEACHers?

  • Could we add anything else to this list?
  • Should there be a minimum proficiency level for TEACHers here in Canım Türkiyem?
  • How should we ‘measure’ this proficiency level (do not say ALES)?
  • If not, how can we ‘know’ exactly how good our TEACHers are?
  • Should NS TEACHers here also be required to demonstrate the same proficiency level?

 

T..

Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

The 2016-17 EDU, ELT/ELL and EDTECH Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 1.0

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Teacher Learning on 03/07/2016 at 11:17 am

And…here’s you guys thinking I had died…passed on…ceased to be…expired…gone to meet my maker…kicked the bucket…shuffled off my mortal coil!

 

No such luck…

Tony (logo new) 260316 ACG

…is very much alive and kicking!

 

Having strayed from the path of light (OK…not as much as Kylo Ren) and avoided me bouts of bloggery for as long as I have, I thought I’d re-launch the ‘ole blog with one of the best-selling, regular posts that seems to have been missed the most…esp. over AY2015-16 (so, please stop mailing me and sending FB hate-messages)!

 

As a fair few of you have noted, Canım Türkiyem has still not come up with a way to keep all of us (consistently) informed of the major EDUevents taking place in a given year – so, I guess, it still falls to me…

 

Problem is that…I have jumped the gun a wee bit! There are not many confirmed for 2016-17…good job this is only VER 1.0 and also that I will update the post as soon as I hear of any others.

 

As usual, I’ll kick off with the specific events here in Canım Türkiyem – before moving onto the International (and Regional) BIG BOYS…yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an international ‘jolly’ (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the shop)!

 ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

Here we go…

 

 

  • DATE: Sept 08 – 10
  • LOCATION: Boğaziçi University – Istanbul, Turkey.
  • EVENT/THEME: ITHET 2016 – The 15th International Conference on Information Technology Based Higher Education and Training
  • CONTACT/SITE: http://www.ithet.boun.edu.tr/ 

 

 

 

  • DATE: March 04
  • LOCATION: Radisson Blu Hotel – Istanbul, Turkey
  • EVENT/THEME: EdTech Summit (Eğitim Teknolojileri Zirvesi)
  • CONTACT/SITE: www.edtechturkey.com 

 

Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)

 

As promised…the BIG BOYS! I’ve even added a couple of flipping good ideas for holidays in the States (if you have not made plans, yet)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

As ever, if you overhear a whispered conversation in a dark car park…let me know and I’ll get it up onto VERSION 1.1 – coming soon to a server near you!

 

T..

Why on Earth Do We Need Teacher Training?

In Adult Educators, Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Our Universities, Teacher Learning on 28/04/2015 at 5:52 am

Adams Quote (for Steve)

I have had intriguing tidings from some of my final year learners recently.  They are currently engaged in their second semester of “school experience,” where they spend one day a week under the tutelage of their mentor educators in local high schools.  In theory they are supposed to watch their mentors in the first term, and gradually be allowed to assume responsibility for teaching their classes in the second.  In the end they are asked to teach one, perhaps two entire classes on their own.

 Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

The idea sounds a practical one – it’s often best to learn the rudiments of teaching from a professional.  In practice what has happened is this:  learners spend most of their time sitting at the back of the classroom watching their mentors undertake a series of repetitive exercises involving little or no language practice – gap-filling, cloze procedure and the like.  They are easy to mark and require the educator to undertake little or no extra-curricular activity.  It’s an easy way to pass the time in class.

Consequently many learners have complained of wasting their time on “school experience.” Not only do they have little or no involvement in classroom activity, but they are introduced to the jobsworth mentality in which educators do the minimum amount necessary to keep their learners amused and collect their salaries at the end of the week.  When the learners are given the space to teach their own classes, they are told to do the same gap-filling activities, as their mentors cannot be bothered to think up anything new.

 21C LEARNing Culture (TG ver 02 upgrade)

I am not in any way suggesting that this state of affairs prevails at every high school; I have encountered many enthusiastic educators willing to challenge existing approaches to pedagogy.  But what proves particularly disconcerting is that this jobsworth mentality is allowed to prevail at any institution.  It suggests that all the teacher training initiatives spearheaded by the British Council, the book publishers and other institutions have little or no influence on the way in which educators handle the day-to-day business of working with their learners.  Resources are spent to little effect – except, perhaps, to encourage institutions to spend more money on glossy textbooks and thereby increase author royalties.

Is there any possibility for change, or at least create the conditions for change?  Institutionally speaking, the prospect is a pessimistic one: many educators are so imbued with the jobsworth mentality that they perceive little or no reason to change their methods.  Even if they wanted to change, there is little or no incentive to do so.  Personal development assumes less significance than the monthly pay-check.  Even if individuals want to change, they will have to negotiate with their superiors, who might disagree with their views entirely.  Why rock the boat when things are going fine?

 Hocam will this be on the test

Perhaps the only workable solution is to begin from the ground up: to find ways outside the institution to set up initiatives dedicated not to teacher training per se, but to investigate methods of learning, both virtual as well as face-to-face.  This might require us to rethink the way institutions work – perhaps technology needs to assume a more important role in facilitating communication between educators and learners.  Much of the teacher training I’ve encountered has been fundamentally top-down in approach; follow the example of the trainer (like the mentor educator), and you too can learn how to work in class.  I’d favor a flipped approach, in which educators tried to listen to their learners and reshaped their classroom strategies accordingly.  Undergraduate learners could be made part of the collaborative process; the insights they have acquired in the three years of their university curricula might prove invaluable in creating new learning strategies.  While jobsworth educators are difficult to shift, there are still opportunities available to create new generations of educators with a genuine and lasting commitment to listening to and learning from their learners.  Who knows – even the learners might want to become educators in the future.

 Creativity (Einstein Quote ver 03)

Yet time is running out: frustrations increase.  My fourth-year learners have a disillusioned view of their chosen profession.  For them it is not a matter of learning about the way people think and react, but simply a matter of rehearsing time-honored drills practiced by their mentors.  Perhaps the teacher training institutions and the publishers need to rethink their approach to working with institutions; rather than trying to foist their products on their so-called ‘customers,’ they might be better advised to take a lengthy time out and listen to what people want, especially those at the lowest end of the pedagogical scale.  Otherwise we are simply reinventing an educational wheel which will very soon come off the axle that drives it.

Laurence Raw

Ankara, Turkey – 27 Apr. 2015

The 2014-15 EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Conference Calendar for Canım Türkiyem…Ver 1.0

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, Our Schools, Our Universities on 03/10/2014 at 7:02 pm

I’ve decided to make a few tiny, tweeny-weeny changes to this year’s Conference Calendar!

Betting against canım Türkiyem

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Yes, that image is the first one – heck…if Warren Buffett can say something outrageous about the States (and 1776), I thought I’d just borrow his words a wee bit (and apply them to our conferences here in canım Türkiyem)!

Bizim conferenceler, here in Turkey, have been getting a pretty good reputation over the last few years…and this year is shaping up to be the same!

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The second change is that I am not kicking off with the International “big boys” this time around. Yani, those conferences that are far too far away (and too expensive for most of us to get to) …unless we work for an EDUorganisation that sends all its TEACHers on an “international jolly” (while all the administrators / managers stay back at home to look after the “shop”)!

You can find all the major international events at the bottom of this post.

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The third change is not really up to me!

With the events this year (well, the ones that have been confirmed thus far) we are starting to see a bit of a shift towards…more and more joint events (this is good…cool even!) and a lot more EdTech Conferences (but not as many online or UNconferences as perhaps we should).

For this reason, ’tis no longer just the ELT/ELL Calendar…but rather the EDU, EDTECH and ELT/ELL Calendar!

As usual…big, bad İstanbul dominates the calendar but word has it that a couple more are in the pipeline for “mother Anatolia” (a few schools are still being a bit coy about publishing their dates) – I’ll update this post as and when we get more information on these…I think we got up to Version 6.2 last year!

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So, without further ado…here we go:

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  • I. Eğitim Kongresi (1st Education Congress – Turkish) – 21.Yüzyılda Bir Eğitim Felsefesi Oluşturmak Ve Özel Okullar
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 November 2014
  • INTCESS15 – 2nd International Conference on Education and Social Sciences
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 2 – 4 February 2015
  • LIF2015 (Language in Focus) – Contemporary Perspectives on Theory, Research, and Praxis in ELT and SLA
  • Caddadocia, Turkey
  • 4 – 7 March 2015
  • EdTech Summit 2015
  • Bahçeşehir University – İstanbul, Turkey
  • 14 March 2015 (UPDATE Coming Soon)
  • GlobELT 2015 – Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language (with Hacettepe University)
  • Antalya, Turkey
  • 16 – 19 April 2015
  • edtechİST 2015 – International Educational Technology Conference in Istanbul
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 18 – 19 April 2015
  • Beykent / Doğuş University – 1st Joint Conference
  • İstanbul, Turkey
  • 09 May 2015 (UPDATE Coming Soon)
  • UDES 2015 (1st International Symposium on Language Education and Teaching)
  • Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli Üniversity – Nevşehir, Turkey
  • 28 – 30 May 2015
  • INGED 2015 (17th International INGED ELT Conference)
  • Çankaya University – Ankara, Turkey
  • October 2015 (UPDATE Coming Soon)

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ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

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As promised – the International (and Regional) “BIG BOYS”…

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  • LeWeb
  • Paris, France
  • 9 – 11 December 2014
  • BETT
  • London, UK
  • 21 – 24 January 2015
  • TACON2015 (21st TESOL Arabia International Conference) – Teaching and Learning in the Digital World
  • Dubai, UAE
  • 12 – 14 March 2015
  • TESOL 2015 – Crossing Borders, Building Bridges
  • Toronto, Canada
  • 25 – 28 March 2015
  • IATEFL 2015 – 49th Annual International IATEFL Conference and Exhibition
  • Manchester, UK
  • 11 – 14 April 2015
  • ISTE 2015 – Connected Learning. Connected World.
  • Philadelphia, USA
  • 28 June – 01 July 2015
  • BAAL 2015 – The British Association for Applied Linguistics Annual Conference
  • Birmingham, UK
  • 3 – 5 September 2015

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AND, a little bit of “sauce”:

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  • LAL4 4th Language Arts and Linguistics Conference
  • Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  • 25 – 26 October 2014

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As ever, please forgive me if I have missed any (just let me know and I’ll fix it, promise)…if you are still planning an event at your institution, get your skates on and let us all know (with a comment).

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Take care…sevgili hocalarım!

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Is it all in the Genes? (from GUEST BLOGGER – Steve Brown)

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Guest BLOGGERS, Teacher Learning, Teacher Training on 05/03/2014 at 8:25 am

Today’s bout of bloggery is from Steve Brown (aka @sbrowntweets on Twitter).

I first came across Steve when I was pointed in the direction of his blog post “21 Questions for Language TEACHers”. I have to admit I had not stumbled upon Steve’s blog – the very-easy-to-remember(The) Steve Brown Blog” – until Mike Griffin gave him a nod in one of his posts and I kicked meself for not seeing it earlier.

I loved his questions so I decided to stalk his blog pages a wee bit more. When I came up for air, I told him (via Twitter) that I was sorry I had had not recognised his “bloggery genius” earlier – and then asked if he’d be interested in answering a question (rather than just helping us thunk over his – he has just done another wonderful “quiz” for all us teachers, too…take a look)!

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He agreed – and here we are this morning!

THUNKers Wanted (for Steve)

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When Tony asked me to do a guest post on his blog I was flattered, then excited, then a bit scared.

I got (really) scared at the point when he “suggested” I try answering this question:

DNA (LEARNing TEACHer) Blog ver 01

Freakishly scary, right?

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I mean, where do you start? This question isn’t just about what makes a good teacher, but what (if anything) is hard-wired into a person that predisposes them to effective, reflective, developmental teaching.

At least I think that’s what the question is!

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So, let’s start with a definition of a LEARNing TEACHer.

I would suggest that this is a teacher who continues to LEARN throughout their career. Someone who recognises that completing a teacher training qualification does not make you the “finished article”. Someone who realises that there is no finished article.

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Parker Quote (for Steve)

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Someone who constantly seeks ways to…

improve,

develop and

enhance their skills & talents.

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If this is our definition of a LEARNing Teacher, maybe we can identify what qualities such a person needs to have.

They need to be able to take new information on board, to respond well to feedback, to pick up new information and ideas, and to have the technical skills to put them into practice.

LEARNing Quote 01 (Steve)

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Of course, much is made of such qualities in the world of ELT teacher training courses. Trainees are expected to make steady progress from observed lesson to observed lesson, absorbing new information from input and feedback sessions then putting it into practice at the very next opportunity.

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But all that stuff is LEARNable!

Adams Quote (for Steve)

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You can LEARN how to manage a class, how to give instructions, how to do effective boardwork, how to clarify language, how to correct errors. This is what the ancient Greeks called poeisis – the implementation of techniques. You learn what needs to be done, then you do it.

Is that all that teaching involves though? Is it just a matter of following set procedures, using tried and tested techniques?

Sure, you need to be able to acquire those technical skills, but you also need to know when to use them.

Best TEACHers (new ver) TG

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Teaching is an essentially human activity; you’re working closely with real people, and these real people will respond in very varied ways to the techniques you implement.

A sensitivity to these responses and an ability to react appropriately are therefore crucial. This is more like what the ancient Greeks called praxis – action that is informed by a wider context, taking into account the moral, socio-economic or political consequences that your teaching might have, beyond the classroom.

I mean the impact on the students’ lives, and the resulting consequences for society in general.

Resnick Quote (for Steve) TG ver

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In terms of what goes into a teacher’s DNA, therefore, the skills themselves are less important because they are LEARNable. What is more fundamental is an inherent AWAREness of the “implications” of employing these skills.

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But the question isn’t just about a good teacher; it’s about a LEARNing teacher.

So as well as an awareness of what you’re doing, there needs to be something else in the DNA that “drives” you forward, that keeps you “wanting” to LEARN more.

Resnick Quote TG ver

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I would suggest that this requires FOUR qualities:

Interest

You can’t LEARN how to be interested in something – either you’re interested or you’re not. So you need to have an interest in the subject you teach, and you also need to have an interest in the whole “business” of teaching and LEARNing.

Motivation

Again, this has to go in the DNA because you can’t LEARN how to want to do something. Desire to take action comes from somewhere very deep down. 

Inquiry

I suppose you could argue that this is very closely related to motivation, but it’s not exactly the same. While motivation is a desire to take action, inquiry is a desire to find things out. You can have your interest piqued or your curiosity raised, but I think that a constantly questioning approach to life, or a reluctance to just accept everything as it is, is something you either have or you don’t have.

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Tolstoy Fish Quote (new ver) TG

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Humility

In order to get better at something, it is important to be able to recognise how bad you are at it. In fact, failures or shortcomings need to be welcomed and embraced as opportunities for development.

We tell this to our students, so we need to demonstrate these qualities in ourselves as well. Humility is certainly something that can be developed, but the ability to equate failure with opportunity is something that some people find very difficult, and others find impossible.

LEARNing and ADAPTATION (Steve)

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I’m not sure I’m doing very well here in describing what the DNA of a LEARNing teacher looks like, though.

Can we visualise it?

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Apparently, regular DNA looks like this:

DNA (Steves Ver)

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You’ve got the four chemicals Adenine, Cyostine, Thymine and Guanine, surrounded by sugar and phosphate.

Maybe the DNA of a LEARNing Teacher can look pretty similar.

Replace the four chemicals with Interest, Motivation, Inquiry and Humility, and surround it all with…AWAREness!

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What if 06

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Of course this is incredibly “unscientific” and I apologise to everyone who actually knows something about DNA. I would welcome any comments from such people.

Trying to answer Tony’s question has raised three related questions for me, which I think I can answer now:

Steves ANSWERS

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Steve Brown

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How long does it take to LEARN English, hocam? – The “10,000 Hour” Upgrade…

In ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness on 21/02/2014 at 9:55 pm

There is a lot of talk around canım Türkiyem these days about how many hours are needed for students to LEARN or “speak” English. In fact, we have even invented new acronyms to help us do this – classroom contact hours are now frequently referred to as GLHs (or “guided learning hours”).

What a queer turn of phrase – when what so many schools really mean is “bums on seats” and ears “pointed at” the teacher!

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TELLıng theTRUTH (Ver 03)

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These discussions have been “aided” by wider (mis)understanding of the CEFR (the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment)– now, you know the reason for the abbreviation!), and its six levels of proficiency from A1 to C2.

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Now, not everyone is a fan of the CEFR – mostly because it has been skillfully co-opted by ELT marketeers eager to sell their wares (by pasting on a EU logo onto whatever they are flogging)!

However (and in truth), the CEFR is refreshing change from the “fuzzy labels” of the past – “intermediate” or “upper-intermediate” or even “pre-faculty” (in academic contexts).

More of the same (my dogs)

I never did really know what these terms meant anyways!

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Besides, the CEFR was originally designed to improve levels of “transparency” – always a “fan” of that (as is Julian)!

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Fasülye (Blog new ver)

YES…there is a “prize” for any non-Turkish speaker that can work out that one!

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In a way, it is impossible to accurately calculate the hours needed to LEARN a language – as it depends on factors such as the learner’s language background, the intensity of study and levels of individual engagement, the learner’s age and motivation (even “gender” – yes, girls do generally kick ass in the right environment), and the amount of study and exposure outside the classroom – in addition to the quality of TEACHing (we sometimes forget this one) …and how many iTunes downloads a student clocks up each week!

Many ELL professionals, for example, think it’s a total waste of time to even try and run a “time and motion study” on language LEARNing.

Afterall, it’s the “quality” rather than the “quantity” of hours that matter…isn’t it?

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So, what do we “know”:

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GLHs (Hocam post)

Yep, that bloody acronym…again!

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I really, really, really have my doubts about the recommended GLHs for C2 – most higher-level learners do not get to this level based on classroom GLHs alone (“talent” is a key factor, as is extended contact with native speaker-like environments – ….or taking a “spouse”…)!

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C2 Level (Hocam Post)

Also, the right kind of “interest” or “engagement” is soooooooo importantmy wife has been an EL learner for 27 years (her first “second” language was French) and I do not think she would mind if I said she would probably struggle in a more “academic”  ELL environment – she would, however, wipe the floor with most native speakers on matters of a spiritual nature, reconnective healing, and…counselling workaholic EDUcators!

But, that’s for another post…

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For many hazırlık centres or “prep schools” at university level in Turkey the distinction between B2 and B1 is of more interest. This is because, in terms of the CEFR, most Turkish universities have selected a hazırlık “exit requirement somewhere between B2 and B1.

We see this more clearly when we look at IELTS equivalencies for these CEFR levels – somewhere between IELTS band 4.5 and 6.5 for those of you more familiar with IELTS.

Yes, you heard me…there are some “bodies” here in canım Türkiyem that believe that a student with a Band 5.0 in IELTS…can go onto a full-time, English-medium…undergraduate programme!

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Handle the truth

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BUT, maybe we should just avoid talking about IELTS…for now!

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You know me sooooo well!

I never did listen to my lawyers that much…

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Most “hazırlık centres” in Turkey are still to define their programmes and progression systems in terms of CEFR (the labels, we use…at least!) – TOEFL scores or IELTS bands are the more common form of currency when discussing what it takes to “graduate” from hazırlık into “freshman year”.

Top ranking universities in the UK currently all require an IELTS band of 7.0 and other “respectable” UK universities ask for an IELTS band of 6.5 (with no less than 6.0 in each module) for international students applying to their undergraduate programmes. These universities will also accept a band 5.5 for entry onto their “foundation programmes” – …the equivalent to hazırlık.

If you want to live in Australia (forEVER – …speak to my wife before you do that!), you have to make sure you have an IELTS band of 7.0 – remember this!

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However, let me introduce you to my little friend:

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Gladwell

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Yeah, I know some (very smart) buggers have been having a dig at Malcolm Amcaof late!

But, you know what, I like this 10K thunk of “his” (…and Anders Enişte).

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I was going to do an analysis of the 10,000 hour “rule” for ELL – but someone beat me to it…someone I love to bits!

Sarah Eaton, a wonderful ELL Consultant from Canada – and…

…fellow “Jedi blogger

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I have mentioned Sarah a fair few times on allthingslearning – and she has often extended more than a helping hand to little ‘ole moi with my bouts of bloggery!

Sarah did a great paper on the time required to become “an ELL expert” – and published a version on her own blog (Literacy, Languages and Leadership).

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In her paper, she suggested a number of “scenarios” (you know how I loves me “mini-cases”):

Scenarios (no years)

Now, I know we ELL professionals are not that well-known for our “math skills” (I hate that my English is being “corrupted” by those guys “across the pond”)!

BUT, get your calculator out…NOW!

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Bet you didn’t!

The calculator thingy…that is.

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Scenarios (years)

Bet you (real “cash” money…this time!)…you are thunking something like this

Expletive (one)

…right now!

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I got thunking to meselfwhat if we did this for our hazırlık schools…here in canım Türkiyem!

I did, you know!

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Here goes!

This is what you WILL thunktrust meI’m a TEACHer:

Expletive (four)

Don’t believe me?

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Hazırlık (01)8

Told you so!

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The solution?

Well, I guess we need to look at our tried and tested quality / improvement strategyyou know the one, çoçuklar:

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ELT Strategy

Yeah…right! Worked in the past…YES?

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Let’s crunch the numbers…with a calculator!

Double the number of contact hours (sorry, GHLs!)…and…let’s throw in a “summer school” – why not!

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Hazırlık (02)

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You know what I am thunking, YES?

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Expletive (sixteen)

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YOU, too?

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Ask the studentsgo on, I dare you!

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Expletive (too many to count)

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So….what is the answer…Tony Paşa?

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Scroll up!

Yes, UP!

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What do my dogs say!

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What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS? – The “Robocop” Upgrade…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Technology on 18/02/2014 at 3:24 pm

21C Teacher (Robocop ver) 160214 TG

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I have been heard to say that you can’t throw a rock into the blogosphere these days without hitting a post or article on the 21st Century “something-or-other”.

Love it or hate it – the notion of 21st Century Skills is one of those HOT topics these days – especially in Turkey. Sadly, however, the discussions on EDtech here seem to be dominated by some very strange creatures…you know them as:

21C Digi Cheerleaders

…IDIOTS, mostly!

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The real problem is:

Digi Cheerleading Rabbits

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IDIOTS that are breeding like bloody rabbitson steroids!

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IDIOTS that (still) do not link the 21C concept to real LEARNing – choosing instead to focus on what seems to be both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…..

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Don’t get me wrong…I’m not some kind of EDtech luddite who wants to put a stop to the so-called tablet and akıllı tahta dönemi we are currently witnessing in Turkey.

Turkey is my adopted home, I am a “milli enişte” and I am amazingly proud that I helped co-create one of Turkey’s first “digital natives” (and also one of the toughest and most beautiful, too – ask me about the “Türk kızı” who took down men twice her size on the Turkish TV version of “Wipe-Out”).

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I am a “daddy”, too!

A very proud one….

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21C LEARNing FIRST

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But, my business is LEARNing (as if you didn’t know) – not TECHnology. And, I’m interested in how we actually “do” something with all the talk-we-are-talking these days – talk about the new kids on the curriculum block:

  • INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL and CREATIVE THINKING
  • PROBLEM-SOLVING and CREATIVITY
  • COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION and SHARING
  • COGNITIVE and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
  • ETHICS, ACTION and ACCOUNTABILITY
  • LEADERSHIP, AGILITY and ENTREPRENEURIALISM
  • CURIOSITY, EXPERIMENTATION and RISK-TAKING
  • SELF-DISCIPLINE, RIGOUR and REFLECTION
…even:
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IMAGINEERING
(a wonderful “skill” that brings many of the above together)… 
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 21C SMARTBoards and DUMBIdeas

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We know here in Turkey (not that different to the rest of the world…really) that we still have major challenges with:

  • ORAL and WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (the 3R’s in TURKISH) – of course!
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE (the 3R’s in ELL)

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But, the TECH (and the so-called “new digital landscape”) still gets many more column inches and pixels than student LEARNing.

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Our raging debate, a debate that others in the US and Europe have picked up, centres on Turkey’s plans to purchase 15,000,000 tablets over the next few years (as part of the Fatih Project) – and has international and domestic commentators really talking:

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Actually, I’m not sure if we should be talking about the tablets (the PM was today…again and again and again) – we should be discussing the skills the tablets are supposed to be ushering into Turkish schools.

…and, the impact of these skills on TEACHers.

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In an earlier post, I discussed how these 21st Century realities are creating a new set of roles for TEACHers:

However, discussion on how these roles translate into a new evolving set of teacher skillsliteracies and fluencies has been (very) limited – especially, in Turkey.

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Isn’t it time we started to ask some REAL questions:

  • What skills do TEACHers (in Turkey) need as we continue our march into the 21st Century?
  • How many of these skills actually relate to how we deploy and use TECHNOLOGY?
  • How many of them relate to effective LEARNing and TEACHing?
  • What do TEACHers actually think themselves – and what do their LEARNers think?
  • How effectively is TEACHer (and LEARNer) LEARNing being promoted and supported (in Turkey)?
  • What else needs to change to make the 21st Century “wishlist” a reality?

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Hey, maybe we can even start asking some of the most basic questions.

Questions like:

21C TECHnology SECOND

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I’d love to see some fresh ideas and comments. 

If not (and you are a lover of “bedtime reading”) – here’s a little list of some resources on allthings21Cskills:

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Tony’s 21st CENTURY LEARNing Library

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2014 ELT and ELL Conference Calendar for Turkey…Ver 6.1 (Upgraded for May Events)!

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, News & Updates (from the CBO) on 29/01/2014 at 2:59 pm

ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

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It’s been a while since I updated the infamous Conference Calendar – but with all the news I was seeing from BETT 2014 (a few weeks back) I thunked that I’d best get me skates on and do another update!

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Those of you that know the ‘ole Blog, know that I try to keep my ear to the ground on all the lovely conference events that are coming up in…

Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)

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This year I started well early. I did Ver 1.0 of the Conference Calendar just after Summer couple of months back. After a few upgrades this evolved into the last version (Ver 3.1) in December – time for Ver 4.1!

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Before we get to canım Türkiyemas you might also remember, I usually start with the ones that only the “rich kids” can go to!

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As I said, 2014 has just kicked off with a “BIGGIE” – a very EdTech BIGGIE! So, I have removed the BETT event

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Of course, the other upcoming “BIGGIES” are:

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  • 13-15 March
  • TESOL Arabia (20th International Conference) – Hyatt Regency (Dubai, UAE)
  • Theme: Methods and Means in ELT

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  • 26-29 March
  • TESOL 2014 – Portland, Oregon (International & EL Expo)
  • Theme: ELT for the Next Generation (See also #tesol14 on Twitter)

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  • 02-05 April
  • IATEFL 2014 (48th Annual International IATEFL Conference & Exhibition) – Harrogate (International Conference Centre)
  • Theme: ELT for the Next Generation

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…but, I also wanted to add a couple of others (that have great potential):

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  • 03-09 August
  • Pilgrims – 40th Anniversary Conference, Kent University, Canterbury,
  • Theme: TBC (Details available soon) – @PilgrimsTT on Twitter)

STOP PRESS…Sadly, we got word last week that Pilgrims have decided to postpone this event. The good news is that they already have plans to try and pull it off in Summer 2015!

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but...

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…I know why you have really come to this post…the conferences and events where we can get some decent çay and (even a simit):

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CONFERENCE cay ve simit (2013 to 14) TG ver

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Seriously, have you ever had a simit in London…in Ireland…in Harrogate (!)

…just don’t get me started on that crappy “tea” they serve there…!

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Türküz, Doğruyuz, Çalışkanız…ve daha güzel çay (da) yaparız!

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Canım Türkiyem has been building up a great reputation for its events over the past few years. The çay and simit help, of course, but it is the sheer range of our events that really does the job…and the dedication of the teams that put these events on!

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So, without further ado – here are the ones we currently have on the calendar, thus far:

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JANUARY 2014

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FEBRUARY 2014

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MARCH 2014

  • 01 March
  • Özel Çevre College – 10th Annual Çevre ELT Conference (İstanbul, Turkey) 
  • Theme: The Call of Carnival (…Check out their FB Page, too)

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  • 01 March
  • EALTA  SIG Conference – Çağ University, Faculty of Arts & Sciences / ELT Department (Mersin, Turkey)
  • Theme: Assessment for Academic Purposes (Contact: Şehnaz Şahinkarakaş – sehnazsahin@gmail.com)

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APRIL 2014

  • 05 April
  • 4. Yeni Nesil Eğitim Konferansı – Acıbadem Doğa Koleji (İstanbul, Turkey)
  • Theme: Eğitimde Değişim Hareketi (Doğa Koleji, İstanbul Üniversitesi ve Vitamin işbirliği ile) 

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  • 12 April
  • ODTÜ Geliştirme Vakfı Özel Denizli Okulları – The 1st National ELT Conference (Denizli, Turkey)
  • Theme: ELT for 21st Century Learners

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MAY 2014

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  • 31 May to 01 June
  • Eğitim Teknolojileri Zirvesi – Yıldız Technical University, YTÜ Davutpaşa Kampüsü Kongre Merkezi (İstanbul, Turkey)
  • Theme: EDtech in canım Türkiyem

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JUNE 2014

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SEPTEMBER 2014

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As ever, there are a couple more in the pipeline – funny, there has not been as much scrapping for those ever-so-valuable weekends in March and April this year. There are rumours of a whole bunch of events in Konya…but someone is keeping details of these under wraps!

WATCH THIS SPACE…

I’ll let you know more details as more events are confirmed – but do drop us a comment or 3, if you hear of one that is a “go”!

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Creativity (Annie Dillard quote 01)

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2012/13 Conference Calendar
2011/12 Conference Calendar

2013/14 ELT and ELL Conference Calendar for Turkey…Ver 3.0

In Conferences, ELT and ELL, News & Updates (from the CBO) on 03/11/2013 at 12:18 pm

ELT & ELL Conf Calendar (TG ver)

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As you all know, I don’t usually get the Conference Calendar rolling till mid-November – but a couple of people asked me if I can spread the word about a handful of events that were coming up in…

Canım Türkiyem (TG Ver 03)

…just after Summer. 

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So, I did Ver 1.0 of the “Conference Calendar” a coulple of months back…then, evolved this into Ver 2.0 in October – this is the second expanded version!

…and, as you might also remember, I usually start with the one that only the “rich kids” can go to!

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The International events over 2013-14… 

So, here you go…(still) without the “sauce” (that will be in Ver 3.0):

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Of course, we have the “BIGGIES”:

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  • 22-25 January (2014)
  • BETT 2014 – London (ExCel London – London’s Royal Docks)
  • Theme: Generic 

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  • 13-15 March (2014)
  • TESOL Arabia (20th International Conference) – Location – TBC
  • Theme: TBC

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  • 26-29 March (2014)
  • TESOL 2014 – Portland, Oregon (International & EL Expo)
  • Theme: ELT for the Next Generation (See also #tesol14 on Twitter)

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  • 02-05 April (2014)
  • IATEFL 2014 (48th Annual International IATEFL Conference & Exhibition) – Harrogate (International Conference Centre)
  • Theme: ELT for the Next Generation

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…but, I also wanted to add a couple of others (that have great potential):

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  • 11-15 November (2013)
  • The Macmillan Online Conference 2013Speaker Schedule
  • Theme: BE, ELT, EAP (Join for FREE right here)

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  • 03-09 August (2014)
  • Pilgrims – 40th Anniversary Conference, Kent University, Canterbury,
  • Theme: TBC (Details available on 01 December – @PilgrimsTT on Twitter)

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but...

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…I know why you have really come to this post…the conferences and events where we can get some decent çay and (even a simit):

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CONFERENCE cay ve simit (2013 to 14) TG ver

8

Seriously, have you ever had a simit in London…in Ireland…in Harrogate (!)

…just don’t get me started on that crappy “tea” they serve there…!

8

Türküz, Doğruyuz, Çalışkanız…ve daha güzel çay (da) yaparız!

8

Canım Türkiyem has been building up a great reputation for its events over the past few years. The çay and simit help, of course, but it is the sheer range of our events that really does the job…and the dedication of the teams that put these events on!

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So, without further ado – here are the ones we currently have on the calendar, thus far:

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NOVEMBER 2013

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DECEMBER 2013

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  • 14 December
  • ATAFEN College – 4th ELT Conference (İzmit/Kocaeli, Turkey)
  • Theme: Keys ‘R’ Us (E-mail: atafenenglishteam@hotmail.com) 

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MARCH 2014

  • 01 March
  • Özel Çevre College – 10th Annual Çevre ELT Conference (İstanbul, Turkey) 
  • Theme: The Call of Carnival (…more on the way soon)

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MAY 2014

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JUNE 2014

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As ever, there are many, many more in the pipeline – I just love it when all the schools start scrapping for those ever-so-valuable weekends in March and April…but not as much as all the publishers and their staff!

I’ll let you know more detials as more events are confirmed – but do drop us a comment or 3, if you hear of one that is a “go”!

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Creativity (Annie Dillard quote 01)

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2012/13 Conference Calendar
2011/12 Conference Calendar

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